We Resist Change Because We’re Hardwired To Do So

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    CIO’s September 15, 2006 issue has a couple of articles worth blogging about.


    First up, "The New Science of Change," by Christopher Koch. As the abstract for the article states, ""Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get people to alter the way they do things. New research reveals why it’s so hard and suggests strategies to make it easier."


    Scientists can monitor brain activity and our responses to change. As the story explains, "Change lights up an area of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is like RAM memory in a PC. The prefrontal cortex is fast and agile, able to hold multiple threads of logic at once to enable quick calculations. But like RAM, the prefrontal cortex’s capacity is finite—it can deal comfortably with only a handful of concepts before bumping up against limits. That bump generates a palpable sense of discomfort and produces fatigue and even anger."


    Even though we may rationally understand the need for change, our biological makeup predisposes us to the familiar.


    Read the article for some light advice on how to grapple with change as either a leader or a follower.


    (I’ll be writing more on this topic when I review a book I’m currently reading, Managing the Dynamics of Change.)


    Then columnist Michael Schrage takes us to task in his article, "Process Pantomime." How do you know you’re just going through the motions of problem solving — particularly in the area of process. How often have you thought to yourself, upon hearing advice about how to fix your problems, "We do that already,"? Says Schrage, you probably don’t do that already, and that’s the source of your greatest problem — making a half-assed effort and telling yourself you’re doing the right things.


    The example he provides involves a company he advised to, which was doing a $200 million outsourcing deal that was behind schedule and over budget. This too is worthwhile reading.


     

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